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Some thoughts about fracking/gas drilling

By Stephen Lundgren
October 11, 2011

In the course of campaigning for the position of Supervisor of the Town of Delaware, I have frequently been asked if I am “for or against” gas drilling. I submit the following statement of just some of my thoughts and concerns about this complex issue, and invite you to answer the question yourself – are you “for or against” gas drilling?

I have tried to approach the hydrofracking issue with an open mind; my initial response to the claims that we live in an area with enormous potential for harvesting a “clean” source of energy was one of hope for both the local and national economies. However, the more I have researched the subject, the less convinced I am that fracking would prove to be a solution to this region’s economic woes or our nation’s need for an abundant supply of clean energy. Ask yourself: Are you concerned that fracking might pose a serious threat to your health and well-being without providing the benefits claimed by proponents of drilling?

The average citizen hasn’t had adequate time to learn enough about fracking in order to make informed decisions about it; powerful political and economic forces are rushing the process. Ask yourself: Since widespread public discussion about fracking began only 3 years ago, is it unreasonable to request more time to become fully informed about and prepared for a process that is inherently risky and potentially dangerous?

No one really knows how much recoverable natural gas is in the Marcellus shale. The USGS originally estimated these reserves to be adequate to supply the country for about 18 years at current demand rates. The recently revised USGS estimate is about 80% lower than the original estimate, meaning possibly just 3 years of supply at current demand rates. Ask yourself: Should we gamble our natural resources on a bet like this?

I think the gas industry and government should adopt a cautious and conservative approach to hydrofracking and work cooperatively to develop more accurate estimates, safer materials and techniques, and more effective regulations and enforcement procedures. Enforcement is a key issue. Ask yourself: If state and local municipalities cannot afford to hire and train people to monitor and enforce their regulations and ordinances effectively, do you trust the gas industry to police itself?